NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 2: Stoudemire will learn rebounding not about luck

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Thumbnail image for Odom_half.jpgThe good Lamar Odom showed up and was a dominating force in game one. He keyed the Lakers first half run from which they never looked back. He finished with 19 points and more key (especially in the second half) 19 rebounds.

“I’m not giving him no hype,” Stoudemire told reporters before the Suns practiced at Staples Center. “He had a lucky game.”

That quote (we’ll lead you to Ken Berger at CBS to read the context) comes from Amare Stoudemire, the man who did nothing to stop Odom in game one. Odom, sounding like a professional, refused to play along later and just said he hoped to be lucky again.

But that quote says something about Amare.

It says he was frustrated, which he should be, and maybe this is how Stoudemire fires himself up. (There also are some things going on in his personal life that may lead him to spout off more than normal.)

But if he thinks rebounding is about luck, it sheds light on his passions. It also sheds light on why he had just three rebounds in the game.

Rebounding is about 10 percent luck and 90 percent desire. It’s want. More than anything else on the basketball court, rebounds are where “want” manifests itself. Charles Barkley was maybe 6’5″, but he was a force on the glass because he wanted the ball more than anyone else. The best rebounder of his generation — one of the best of all time — was Dennis Rodman and he was 6’7″, yet for six straight years in the mid ’90s he pulled down more than 25 percent of the available rebounds while he was on the floor. His last year with the Spurs that was almost 30 percent. He wanted that ball more than you and he went and got it.

In Game 1, Odom wanted it. Now for Game 2 indifferent Odom or maybe even bad Odom will show up to play — there is no more inconsistent talented player in the NBA. But what he did in Game 1 had nothing to do with luck. It was desire. And Stoudemire needs to show more of that and grab more than three rebounds if the Suns are going to take one in LA.

Marreese Speights opts out of Clippers contract

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The Clippers are unraveling.

Of course, whether they can re-sign Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are the big questions. But they also must deal with smaller matters in free agency – like Marreese Speights.

Speights will opt out, his agent tweeted:

The Clippers will hold Speights’ Non-Bird Rights (technically a form of Bird Rights), allowing them to give him a starting salary up to $2,540,346 without using cap space or the mid-level exception.

The 29-year-old Speights, a stretch five who takes charges, fits the modern NBA. He could probably get more if he seeks it.

The Clippers won’t have cap space unless they lose Paul and Griffin, and at that point, re-signing a veteran like Speights is of little use. So, it would likely require the taxpayer mid-level exception or Speights taking a discount to keep him.

Luc Mbah a Moute can and likely will also opt out, and he’ll fall in the same Non-Bird situation. The Clippers would likely prioritize their mid-level exception for him – if it’s enough for either player.

Keeping Paul and Griffin is of the utmost importance, but that’s not the Clippers’ only challenge. Even if they keep those two stars, assembling even a decent supporting cast will difficult. Possibly losing J.J. Redick is the main issue there, but handling Speights’ and Mbah a Moute’s roster spots will also be pivotal.

Warriors struggle to get Zaza Pachulia’s 2017 NBA Finals hat on his big head (video)

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Zaza Pachulia became the villain of the Western Conference finals when he injured Kawhi Leonard and torpedoed the Spurs chances of upsetting the Warriors.

But his teammates stood by him – then shared this fun moment with him after Golden State won the West.

Reporter asks Spanish-speaking Manu Ginobili whether he just announced retirement (video)

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Manu Ginobili received an emotional sendoff in the Spurs’ season-ending – and maybe Ginobili’s career-ending – loss to the Warriors last night.

The postgame press conference featured a lighthearted moment when, after the Argentinian guard answered a couple questions in Spanish, an American reporter – not wanting to miss big news – asked whether Ginobili had just announced his retirement.

No, Ginobili assured the reporter. He says he plans to take a few weeks to consider his options.

Warriors make most dominant playoff run ever to NBA Finals

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Moses Malone famously predicted the 76ers team would go “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” in the 1983 playoffs, sweeping all three rounds in four games. Philadelphia didn’t quite do it – sweeping the Knicks, beating the Bucks in five then sweeping the Lakers for the title.

Thirty-four years later, an NBA team went “”Fo’, Fo’, Fo'” for the first time.

Golden State swept the Trail Blazers, Jazz and Spurs in four-game series. But with an extra playoff round, the Warriors’ 12-0 run merely gets them to the Finals.

It’s the ninth undefeated run to the Finals, third since the league adopted four playoff rounds in 1984 and first since the first round became best-of-seven. The Lakers went 11-0 in the playoffs en route to the Finals in 2001 and 1989.

By winning an extra game and outscoring opponents by 16.3 points per game, Golden State now claims the most dominant postseason run to the NBA Finals ever.

Here are the top paths to the Finals, with Finals results, by playoff…

Record (point difference per game in parentheses):

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Point difference per game (record in parentheses):

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This doesn’t guarantee Golden State a championship. The Cavaliers (10-1, +11.9) are on track for an elite run to the Finals themselves, and they have LeBron James.

But the Warriors put ridiculous expectations on themselves by signing Kevin Durant to join a 73-win team featuring Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. I’m unsure a Golden State title this year will be properly appreciated, but so far, the Warriors are doing all they can to clear a bar set unreasonably high.